Published in June 2003

College’s New Theater Performs
By Dawn Schloesser

Carroll Community College’s theater, fitness center and 13 classrooms use AV to enhance students’ educational experience.

     The world of AV clientele can be divided into three categories: those who know what they need to do and how to make it happen; those who know what they need to do but lack the knowledge to do it, and those who aren’t sure what they need.
For many integrators, the second type of client is a dream, while the first may be armed with just enough knowledge to be dangerous. However, working with clients that fall into the third category need not be as frustrating as it may seem. Quite the contrary, these projects can provide an exciting challenge for the integrator, designer/installer or consultant who knows how to work with clients to determine their needs and how to meet them in the most cost-effective way.
     Design & Integration’s $500,000 AV install in the Carroll Community College Fine Arts and Life Fitness building illustrates this point. Virginia-based Miller, Beam & Paganelli came on-board as consultants. With the college, the two firms worked closely to create systems that met all of the college’s educational and performance needs—even before the college could accurately describe those needs.

Crown Jewel
     When Carroll Community College in Westminster MD, first built the 600-seat Robert A. & Phyllis B. Scott Center for the Fine and Performing Arts, the school’s administrators weren’t sure about the AV requirements for the theater, which would comprise $154,000 of the $545,000 installation.
     “We gave some general specifications as far as what we hoped the outcome would be,” explained Alan Schuman, Carroll Community College executive vice president of Administration. “We really needed the consultants to design for us what we needed.”
The theater would host a variety of events, with live groups of all sizes. “We wanted flexibility, multi-functionality, and…of course, clarity of sound,” Schuman stated. “We’ve been in old high schools, where you can’t hear what’s being presented. This is a brand new theater and we wanted to make sure we had state-of-the-art results.”
     Miller, Beam and Paganelli’s Eric Willis asked Schuman the appropriate questions, and listened carefully to his answers, in order to ascertain the needs for the new theater. “Usually, when I’m brought into a church, a theater or a boardroom, they tell me what they want to be able to do,” he said. “In this instance, I was presented with this great theater, and they asked, ‘What do you think we should do in here? What are your recommendations for a facility of this nature?’”
     Willis drew on his past experience and industry knowledge to present Schuman with a variety of possibilities and, ultimately, put together the appropriate system.
     He was striving for something that was easy to operate because, although a technical director would be hired, at the time, school librarians would operate the system. He also wanted a system that could be used to full effect by outside performance companies that would have a sound designer on staff. Willis described the end result as, “Complex enough to provide a lot of capabilities, but simple enough for somebody who doesn’t have a lot of experience.”
     Installer Jake Rivera, of Design & Integration, poetically called the auditorium the jewel in the crown of the project, which also included standalone AV systems in the classrooms and television and distributed audio throughout the fitness building, as well as a PA system in the gymnasium.

Easy Mixing
     Both Willis and Rivera cited the Crestron switching and control system as one of the more unique features of the installation. “The control system makes end-user operation simple and straightforward,” Rivera said. “In addition to being able to control the theater systems from the control room, the end user has a panel that allows control from the stage area.”
Mixing for live bands would be done in the theater, while dramatic events and assemblies would be mixed from the control room.
     Sennheiser Evolution 300 Series wireless microphones round out the system. The system’s user-friendly interface makes it easy to change wireless frequencies and configure the microphones to each performer.

 
Miller, Beam & Paganelli, Inc.
Miller, Beam & Paganelli provides professional consulting services in the fields of acoustics, vibration and audiovisual system design. Formerly Miller Henning Associates, the Virginia-based company has been in business for more than 10 years.
With a steady focus on smaller projects and government work, MB&P’s business has stayed strong in a slumping economy. “We’re not homerun hitters,” said MB&P’s Eric Willis. “We have four AV engineers and four acousticians on staff. We’re not going to pretend to compete with the big guys, because we don’t really feel we need to. We stay very steady.”
The company recently completed conference rooms at the World Bank in Washington DC, and the F&G Life executive conference room in Baltimore MD. In spite of MB&P’s focus on “smaller projects,” the company also designed and specified multi-purpose audio reinforcement and paging systems at the 20,000 seat MCI Center multi-sports arena in Washington DC.

Acoustical, Aesthetic Challenges
     In specifying the systems for the auditorium, Willis said, “The biggest design challenges were in making sure that I used the proper loudspeakers, but also making sure they were mounted and aimed properly.” The available space stands very tall compared to its length from front to back, which meant Willis had to pay close attention to coverage. He created a left-right-center/front-of-house system, using QSC Powerlite and CX Series amplifiers.
     “I had to be careful not to favor one set of seats over another,” Willis added. In addition, a full, wrap-around balcony created a lot of under-balcony space. He specified JBL Control 26s for the four zones under the balcony, delaying the speakers to avoid echo.
     Willis ultimately selected EAW 650 Series and 695 SP series subwoofers for the main front-of-house system. A tall proscenium arch in the center of the front of the stage created a challenge in placing the two speakers and subwoofers that made up the center channel. “We had to be able to support three 150-pound loudspeakers from the center, and two stereo speakers on either side,” he explained. With an I-beam stretching across the proscenium arch, Willis had to find a way to hang the speakers in front of the beam, where they wouldn’t interfere with the opening and closing of the stage curtain or with the aesthetics of the theater.

Design & Integration, Inc.
Since 1996, the aptly named Design & Integration, Inc., has been offering design and integration of audiovisual, sound, projection, teleconferencing, MATV, broadcast and production and paging systems.
Recent installations include a whole-facility paging system and three stand-alone audio systems in the George Washington University Health & Wellness Center, and an audiovisual display system at the Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore MD.
Showcasing its versatility, the company also worked in a subcontractor capacity to provide all onsite installation and project management at the University of Virginia football stadium, including overseeing installation of the sound system, broadcast cable plant and CATV system. D&I also provided a turnkey fiberoptic transmission system for additional broadcast tie lines.

Custom Solutions
To accomplish this, Willis designed a custom arm that would stretch out beyond the arch and I-beam. With sketches in place, it was up to Design & Integration’s Rivera to execute the plan. Rivera called in a firm that often does custom rigging for his company. “We had custom speaker mounts fabricated,” he said, “and then we had to tappan thread the steel plate over the proscenium and mount the speakers out.”
     Rivera also had to overcome conduit issues within the auditorium’s hardcap ceilings. “There was some existing conduit,” he said, “but there wasn’t enough. “We had to hammer-drill our way through some concrete walls. Then we got a dart gun, and wherever we had a ceiling can, we took our string and dart gun and shot it across the space to the next hole. We did the pull that way.”
Rivera noted that it can be difficult coming into a bid project, where the AV installers often are the last ones onboard. “AV is oftentimes a last concern, and we’re brought to the dance late,” he said. “A general contractor doesn’t stop for anybody.”
Nonetheless, when the client, consultant and contractor work well together, they can surmount any obstacles. “When a project team comes together and people get along well and are able to explore options and come to compromises, projects move nicely,” Rivera said. “This was one like that. The end result was great.”
     Schumann agreed, “The theater and the classrooms meet all of our educational needs….The new systems are going to be a wonderful addition to our theater department.”

Equipment

Auditorium
2 AKG C535 wired condensor mics
1 AKG K240M headphones
8 Atlas Sound FA138 speakers
1 Clear-Com MS-232 intercom base station
6 Clear-Com CC-40 intercom headsets
6 Clear-Com RS-502 intercom belt packs
1 dbx Driverack 442 under-balcony DSP processor
2 dbx Driverack 480 FOH speaker management systems
2 EAW KF650Z center cluster speakers
2 EAW KF650Z L/R speakers
4 EAW LA212 stage monitors
1 EAW SB600Z center cluster sub
1 Furman Miniport 15 relay closure unit
1 Furman PL-8 power conditioner
1 Intelix M-Series 24x16 audio matrix mixer
2 JBL Control 1 control room speakers
4 Listen Technologies LA-164 ear speakers
4 Listen Technologies LR400 receivers
1 Listen Technologies LT800 transmitter
4 Litlite 18XHI-4 console lamps
1 Mackie SR40-8 mixing console
1 Middle Atlantic D3 3U drawer
2 Middle Atlantic ERK 4425 racks
3 Middle Atlantic RK16 portable racks
1 QSC CX254 multi-channel amp
2 QSC CX902 stage monitor amps
1 QSC DSP3 digital signal processor
1 QSC Powerlight 2.0HV sub power amp
4 QSC Powerlight 3.8x FOH power amps
1 QSC CX302 control room amp
2 Sabine Graphi-Q GRQ-3102 monitor DSPs
1 Sennheiser ASP/NT1 antenna splitter
2 Sennheiser EW-312 wireless lavalier mics
2 Sennheiser EW-335 wireless handheld mics

2 Shure Beta 87 wired condensor mics
4 Shure SM57 wired dynamic mics
4 Shure SM58S wired dynamic mics
1 TASCAM CC-222 CDR-W w/cassette Whirlwind accessories

Back of House
4 Atlas Sound FA138T87 speakers
4 Atlas Sound AT-35 70V auto transformers
4 JBL Control 25T wall-mount speakers
1 QSC CX302V 70V stereo power amp
1 QSC DSP3 digital signal processor

Video Presentation
1 Comprehensive Video CVG-3SXL distribution amp
Comprehensive Video cables
1 Display Devices DL3W-20 projector lift
1 Draper Cineperm 20' diagonal front projection screen
1 Extron 7SC switcher w/scaler
1 Panasonic AG2570 stereo VHS VCR
1 Pioneer DV-434 DVD player
1 RDL PS24B power supply
3 RDL STA-1 audio balancing transformers
1 Samsung 170MP video preview monitor
2 Sanyo PLC-XF20 w LNS-WO2Z LCD video projectors

Control
1 Crestron Pro II central controller
1 Crestron TPS-4500 12" tilt color
touchpanel
1 Crestron CT1600 touchpanel
1 Crestron CNTBLOCK network junction module

Freelance journalist Dawn Schloesser covers the AV and music industries.

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